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Working in a post-COVID world: Has our idea of the ideal office dynamic changed?

by jcp
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Our world is modernising at an alarming rate in a desperate attempt to keep up with people’s ever changing wants and needs. Mindsets have been altered with regards to what really makes the most productive – not to mention enjoyable – workplace.  As the world returns to offices, people look to tweak how they do business.

In a hybrid working world, office furniture supplier, DBI Furniture Solutions has seen a skyrocketing demand for breakout spaces that allow for high-energy team working sessions. But how else are office designs changing to adapt and maximise productivity in a post-COVID world?

Impact of the hybrid working approach 

It’s fair to say that opinions are starting to change when considering the ideal working environment, with the hybrid working model slowly taking over from the regular nine to five. Working from home has never been easier, with rapid advancements in technology leading to an increase in workplace apps (including the likes of Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom) that allow for effortless team communication.

However, it’s been argued that this takes away the driving force for many businesses that comes in the form of the ‘office buzz’, resulting in a 50/50 split between the two environments being favoured by many. In a world gone digital, it’s also trickier to see when teammates are struggling behind a screen, so being sure to balance this with physical mentoring and coffee catch ups is more effective.

With this approach, workers may prefer to keep their usual day-to-day writing tasks to ‘WFH’ days to avoid any distractions, saving team meetings and creative collabs until they’re back in the office.

The open plan office

Despite an ease in Covid-19 restrictions, many people still prefer to avoid getting too close to others. Office design now revolves around social distancing, as the open plan office does away with traditional cubicles. Fewer desks are spread apart from one another, making for a less crowded environment to put staff at ease, with flexible seating provided for people to choose when and where they work to maximise productivity. For those that do choose to work at their desk, it’s likely that installing see-through screens for additional protection will become more of a normality.

Workplace flexibility

People desire flexibility, and this now goes beyond the hybrid working approach. The power of choice goes a long way in the workplace, as without it, employees can start to feel trapped. By creating office ‘zones’ for alternating between activities – take engaging in a high-energy brainstorming session as an example and heading over to a collaborative station – a sense of control is regained. Providing the freedom to engage in social interaction within the office is probably one of the most important attributes that a company can offer, especially when bearing in mind that happy employees are much more productive.

Rise of the breakout space 

After being temporarily stripped of all social interaction, the importance of simply being around people has been recognised by employers as they remember why company culture is what really makes a brand tick. Being in the office allows employees to have a good natter, using private booths to catch up with both work and home related matters. Ultimately, this builds healthy working relationships, providing a motivation for staff to make the commute and sit down at their desks (or in a breakout pod) each day.

And you know what they say, team work makes the dream work. In all settings, this is completely true, especially in creative industries. Sitting down in a breakout area to engage in a good old brainstorming session is both motivating and inspiring, as employees are able to bounce ideas off one another and come up with creative solutions. As we mentioned before, people seem to be opting for comfortable, open plan seating or breakout spaces over standard desks and chairs – will we soon see the end of cubicles and traditional seating in office days?

‘Chill out’ zones 

Employee wellness should always be regarded with utmost importance by any business, ensuring that an office setup is optimised for staff health and happiness. Providing flexibility and encouraging a balance of work and play through collaborative areas, gaming stations and ‘chill out’ zones are perfect places to destress.

Sometimes you really do just need to take a step back and have a breather, especially when you’re beginning to feel a nasty case of writer’s block coming on. Engaging in social interaction with your peers could be just what you need to refresh and reset your brain, allowing you to get stuck in once more. Taking microbreaks are great for welcoming back productivity and concentration, and they also create a brilliant chance to connect with your team members, so it’s likely that offices will be redesigned with fun and lightheartedness in mind.

Working in a post-COVID world has altered working life as we know it, and as time goes on, it’s evident that change and fluctuation will always remain. Office design is all about creating a space for workers that makes them the most productive they can be. New research will bring new ways of doing things, so who knows what the future will hold? The most important thing to do when our lives are changing at such a rapid pace is to constantly check in with employees to see how they’re doing, find out whether they enjoy the current method of working, or if there’s anything you can do to enhance their overall experience.

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